And We’re (nearly) DONE!

They say that time contracts when you’re busy, and I would have to say this feels true, especially of everything that’s happened since the close of our Indiegogo restoration campaign last December. It’s an understatement to say we were successful. We raised a whopping $17,429, a full 128% of our goal, and only a little over $1500 off of our stretch goal. We are SO very grateful to all the people who supported the press!

The winter was a busy one for us, as we wrapped up the campaign and continued shipping perks out as they came available. But as early spring approached, the REAL work began in earnest.

The first order of business was to excavate soil out from around the building. It had built up pretty badly and on the south side of the building had caused unexpected rot to the foundation, so right off the bat we were hit with unanticipated costs. Fortunately, my partner Terry is capable of anything and he managed the replacement of some beams and the south wall rim joist. We also had to remove shingles on the south wall below the window to expose and remove rot in the wall below the big window, and to get ready for the new window.

In late February, Ecowoodworks came out, deconstructed the old window, and carefully saved every pane of glass (but two) for the new window. Shop Foreman Devin Markoff personally handled the construction of the new window, and friends, it’s a thing of total beauty. The installation took place on March 17. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of satisfaction and gratitude the moment we were able to look out of this gorgeous, strong, weatherproof new window without the filter of worry and concern we used to feel with a rotting, leaking window. And remarkably, it’s a perfect match for the previous window, with a stain to match, the proper mill profile and the same old wavy glass that made the lake view even more special.

Next up was the (gulp) tree removal. This epic two-day project began on May 10th as Luis from Ron’s Tree Service got his gear on and started climbing the 180′ fir, cutting branches as he went up and lowering them each to the ground by rope so as not to damage anything below. At the end of day one, Luis cut the tree top out and we watched as he perilously swung to and fro at the top of the bare 100′ trunk.

The next day Luis climbed back up the tree and with the aid of a huge crane (that I never thought would make it up my narrow driveway), the tree started coming down in larger chunks than the day before. This time, the pieces were long enough to be milled at a future date and donated to various projects. It was another long day, but at the end of it, five huge logs had been hauled off to a yard to season, and the shorter pieces were stacked off to the side for future firewood and other uses.

Of course, there was also a huge stump surrounded by a large mound of soil. Terry and I decided that rather than pay to have it ground out, we would cut it out of the ground. Easier said than done! We dug and dug for weeks, trying to remove every little bit of soil and rock that would interfere with the saw blade. Then Terry got to work exposing each massive root and cutting through them one by one until the only thing that remained was the taproot going straight down. You wouldn’t believe the list of tools that were needed to get this stump detached from the earth! But at long last, on July 1st, Terry used his grandpa’s block and tackle to pull the stump over on its side, severing the last few inches of uncut taproot that remained. Another incredibly impressive accomplishment by Terry Bunce! It’s looks so beautiful where it rests, that we’ve decided to keep it there through the winter and will consider dragging it somewhere to rot in peace next year.

At this point we were exhausted, our budget was about spent, but we really wanted that last important thing… new paint.

The press hadn’t been painted in many, many years, and it showed. I don’t know how to put it any other way, but spiders had been pooping on the siding since the day after the last paint job, and even though I have washed as much as I could off every few years, spider poo is strangely resilient, and leaves little white streaks and droplets on the siding. We hired Ariel Biggerstaff from Great Bigg Painting Co. to come and prep the building while I looked at hundreds of color swatches and changed my mind a few too many times. But at long last, I found my color. It wasn’t easy to choose, because the press has been the same lichen-y, forest-service green since early days. Yet, I wanted to show in some more obvious way that the press was restored and ready for the future. New color really sends the message. I chose a deep blue-green to harmonize with the varied greens of maple leaves, woodland plants, Douglas Fir and ivy 😦 and the rich browns of the forest floor. Freshly painted white trim just makes the whole thing even more brilliant. Come up and check it out! Ariel Biggerstaff did such a beautiful and attentive job, and also helped us open all the old windows that had been painted and nailed shut, so now we can throw windows open and let the fresh air in when the weather is fine. What a difference!

We aren’t completely and totally done yet, because next year we have to come back and tackle the damage the tree did to the foundation, and replace more shingles along the bottom edge of the building. However… I think it’s acceptable to say that we have achieved everything that was really important to do for the building, and it feels way more solid and looks amazing. Another 25 years is no longer hard to imagine in our little seaside cabin in the woods.

Every day I wish I could show my predecessor Jocelyn what this community has made possible. It would be tremendous evidence that she started something that Olympia would deeply embrace. I am so fortunate to continue where she left off and assume the tremendous institution and community good-will that she created here. I look forward to all the lovely work ahead as we continue Jocelyn’s long print run.

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Owner, designer, printer at an historic letterpress printshop

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